Aspen for Drawers

Would Aspen be good wood to use for drawer boxes? Here's the thinking. October 1, 2005

We just purchased a dovetailing machine. The guy I work with insists that he heard that good material for sides/back is aspen. I really don't know what that is. Im guessing it is a sub-species of poplar? Anyway it doesn't seem that easy to find around here. I am thinking about going with baltic birch, maple, cherry, and etc. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Aspen is in the Populus genus. Aspen grows in New England, the lake states and the Rockies, primarily. It is very low density and is not exceptionally strong. It is prone to fuzzing when machining. In other words, it is not the most desired wood you can find. As a result, the price is low. For drawer sides, it is a good choice often, but it does have a few problems, including an odor at times in discolored wood.

From contributor R:
I agree with Gene. I tried aspen on several jobs a few years back and the cost savings did not come close to off-setting the time it took to work the material. It was horrible. If you can get it, basswood is excellent for drawer sides, works well and is fairly stable. Beech is good as well, but hard to find in the states at a good price point. I personally use the Blum Tandembox system for my designs.

From the original questioner:
Also, we are green at this. Is there a formula or way of thinking about pricing for dovetailing -price per square inch? I know it's never that simple, but suggestions are certainly welcome. We are in Canada and there doesn't seem to be much appreciation for the quality and look of dovetailing yet.

From contributor N:
To the original questioner: Im wondering what you mean that there isn't an appreciation for dovetails? I find the exact opposite. If a client doesn't want metal sided drawers, 90% of the time they want dovetails after they've seen a sample.

From the original questioner:
Well, basswood is sounds like it would machine nice, because they use it for carving but the price is double what maple is around here.